MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Council has received a finance situation assessment report as part of the 2023 budget process.
The update came during the recent regularly scheduled council meeting, held in person and on Zoom.
“This is a high-level overview of external factors that affect us,” said Jeff Holmes, Mountain View County's chief administrative officer.
Oil and gas industry activity in Alberta has increased and contributes to the Alberta forecasted surplus, and as a result Mountain View County will assume grant stability in 2023, said Lorianne Marshall, director of corporate services, who presented the finance report and took questions from council.
“For now I would say we would forecast about the same as we have (in 2022),” she said.
Inflation is having a notable impact on the county right now, she said.
"It was higher than our 2022 budget forecasts resulting in council approving contractor fuel surcharges outside of the regular budget process. We will continue to review the impact of inflation on expenditures through variance reports and prepare a municipal price index as a tool that will support the forecast.
“The municipal inflation index is the same as CPI as it considers a basket of expenses for the average Canadian consumer. The difference is the expenses incurred -- a municipality would consider cost of living for wages and contract price increase provisions.”
Policy and budget changes by the province have impacted how the annual county budget has been balanced in the past five years, with some of the changes including the police fee revenue share, fluctuations in Municipal Sustainability Initiative annual grant allocation, including police contract costs, removing new well drilling equipment tax revenue, increasing depreciation for wells, and providing a tax assessment holiday for three years starting in 2022 for new wells and pipelines, she said.
The county has been experiencing some supply challenges, she said.
“For example, with equipment purchases,” she said. “Though not the intent of the increase in inflation, limited supply of goods and services and staff vacancies, service levels may be impacted. These factors will challenge the preparation of forecasts for the budget and will be monitored with quarterly report to council.”
To meet the county’s asset management priority, long-range capital plans will be developed and reviewed to prepare the budget, she said.
The county currently has $70 million in funded reserves, she said.
Council passed a motion accepting the report as information.